Being Funny in a Foreign Language | Zoey Preston
On October 14, 2022, The 1975 released their newest album: Being Funny in a Foreign Language. Known for their upbeat, catchy pop tracks with witty lyrics and overly long album titles, The 1975’s songs are deceptively upbeat. Their bouncy pop songs have 80s-esque drums and sparkly synths with lyrics about politics, postmodernism, drug addiction, and dark romance. The band is comprised of singer and rhythm guitarist Matthew (Matty) Healy, bassist Ross MacDonald, drummer George Daniel and lead guitarist Adam Hann. They formed in 2002 when the members were still in high school in Wilmslow, Cheshire. By 2013, after the release of several EPs, their debut self-titled album The 1975 hit #1 in the UK charts and they have since seen massive success, garnering over 13 million monthly listeners on Spotify and continuing to release successful albums.
Following Notes on a Conditional Form, their 2020 release, fans were hoping the band might redeem themselves with the new album — Notes was largely regarded as a disappointment. Still, Me & You Together Song and If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know) became immediate fan favorites and some of their best songs to date. They were bright pop sing-alongs that were immediately catchy and honestly carried the whole album. Overall, though, the album was a long, messy experiment that lacked direction and cohesion. Its main issue was an excessive amount of mediocre tracks with only a few gems, racking in 22 total.
“Being Funny” cut that amount in half. And that’s probably a good thing: with 11 songs, it’s 44 minutes long, the 1975’s shortest album yet, but it has a clear vision and focus. Its tone is more hopeful, following a theme of love rather than the postmodern cynicism present in some of their earlier works, like their 2018 album A Brief Inquiry in Online Relationships. Healy said, “On our previous albums, the whole record has been about the cultural environment, but here I’m setting that scene up right at the beginning, and then the rest of the album is about me living in this environment and talking about how it makes these bigger ideas of love and home and growing up and things like that really difficult.” The band’s approach to songwriting is different, opting to reflect on growth, love, and family, giving the album an overall very cozy feel. In his review of the album, Brady Brickner-Wood wrote, “Being Funny is as sincere as the 1975 have ever sounded, and also as hopeful. Without the thematic discursions and stylistic detours of past records, Healy’s glamorous love songs finally take center stage, their message as convincing as ever: Maybe love, clichés and all, is the answer.” It’s a warm, romantic, feel-good listen full of wickedly funny lyrics that makes me want to sit by a fire, drinking hot tea on a snowy day.
Jack Antanoff, known for his work with artists like Lorde, Taylor Swift, and Lana Del Rey helped to produce the album, and his influence is clear. Healy said, “[Antonoff]’s so good. What he does is identifies what an artist is really good at or where the truth is coming from.” And that influence really shines through — Antanoff enhances the 1975’s sound by complementing their staple big 80s synths and drums with more string arrangements. He brings out a new soft, folksy side to the band as well with acoustic guitar riffs, violins, and vocal harmonies.
Still, the album is still a very 1975 album. Matty’s lyrics are still full of cheek, the synths are still sparkly, and the songs are still all ear-worms. Happiness has a funky bassline that gives the song a contagious groove, and its lyrics about growing up and finding love are catchy and beltable. Part of the Band showcases Healy’s classic eloquent lyrics on top of a string arrangement as he reflects on his past self before transitioning to a soft folk chorus. Oh Caroline is a sweet, classic pop love song with a brain-itchingly good piano hook, and it’s been stuck in my head all week. I’m In Love With You is a heartfelt confession of love with glittering synths and a bouncy beat, and it never fails to make me smile. Matty called About You a sequel to Robbers, their hit off their first self-titled, a nostalgic callback to one of their classics and an homage to their old sound.
I know for a fact that this album is going to be the soundtrack to my winter. It’s spontaneous, full of cliches, danceable, heart-warming, and a beautiful testament of the band’s growth through not only their sound but also their individual character.